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Electric Warrior Sessions

Marc Bolan and The T. Rex

℗ 1997 Cleopatra Records CLP 0024

Marc Bolan and The T. Rex • 1997 • Electric Warrior Sessions

Marc Bolan's detractors never understood how he seemed in such total command of his game, not even after Electric Warrior's September 1971 release. This outtakes album shows why: Bolan's ability to meld garage smarts and a glam pop beat, which holds true for the two versions of his big American hit, "Get It On." The opening version is fairly identical to the finished article, but its pre-sweetened, six-minute companion is raw, rowdy, and untamed listening. Drummer Bill Legend and bassist Steve Currie had only just joined in the spring of 1971. To tighten things up, Bolan ran them through the feverish '50s-era paces of "Honey Don't" and an edgy "Summertime Blues," which rumbles under clattering Mickey Finn percussion, then explodes into an entirely different place after Bolan's feverish "1-2-3-4!" count-off. Two versions of "Monolith" further impressions of T. Rex locked in a garage, as do thunderous broadcast takes of "Jeepster" and "Baby Strange." (The sound is surprisingly crisp and coherent, a commodity not readily associated with unofficial T. Rex releases.) A scruffy bedroom acoustic demo of "Life's a Gas," on the other hand, could probably have stayed in the "completists only" filing cabinet. Anyone writing off Bolan as just another jaded teen-beat merchant will be in for a rude surprise: he's totally in command and always looking for a new angle — such as on the electric "Cosmic Dancer." When that idea didn't pan out, Bolan recut it with a heavily orchestrated arrangement. But that's the mark of a creative mindset — use what works and toss the discards. This is an essential snapshot behind the scenes of a classic rock album, and a great deal of fun, too. — Ralph Heibutzki.